Year of Release: 2003
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8207-2
Total Time: 41:21:00
I'm of two minds about Synergy, the third release from Norway's Extol (their first for Century Media). One part of me loves the high energy of the music - which from the first track ?Grace For Succession? gets going and doesn't let go (aside from the breathy, acoustic guitar and vocals only ballad ?Aperture?). It is a screamy, snarly and swirly thing with a smattering of ?clean? vocals thrown in amongst the crashing drums and chopping and slashing guitars. Those harsh vocals come from Peter Espevoll, the melodic ones from guitarist Ole Børud ? the latter style being my preference. Extol are, in addition to Espevoll and Børud, Christer Espevoll on guitars, Jon Robert Mjåland on bass and David Husvik on drums.
What I didn't get until I saw the lyrics ? at one of the many lyric sites on the web ? was the band is, ahem, extolling Christian themes. Mainly because without lyrics, other than Børud's melodic ones, you can't really tell what Espevoll is singing. Yes, I'm sure after playing the CD over and over and over again, one could piece them together, but to me, well, it's just screaming. Not a criticism that, though I'm not fond of the style ? harsh vocals, I mean. But the fact is, he is screaming them out at the top of his lungs, as if he has swallowed razor blades or has been possessed liked Carrie (of Carrie, natch)? is in extreme pain. Except for the spoken word sections, ?Psychopath? (not about psychopath's per se, but religious fanatics) is all harsh vocals and I suppose here, that does seem appropriate. It also features a great guitar solo, and add in some vocal effects, and it all becomes an interesting track. And the track that follows, ?Blood Red Cover,? is fully in thrash mode, nary a soft or melodic moment (at least vocally) to be found.
On the other hand, as much as I like the clean vocals, they do seem a little too ?pretty? on ?Paradigms?. The tracks I like the most are ?Grace For Succession" and ?Confession Of Inadequacy,? the melodic sections of the latter being more favorable to my ears. But there are parts here and there of other pieces that I do like. The intro to "26 Miles From Marathon" made me think of a what might result if Djam Karet met Rush and played thrash, this mainly in the drum and bass interplay, and only for a time.
Thrash hasn't really been my thing (and not being a religious person, the themes aren't my thing either). But, my likes aside, Extol are very good at what they do, playing a very tight and intricately arranged form of progressive thrash metal, if you will. They transition easily between different meters, all while creating a heavy wall of sound though which a guitar lead or some dynamic cymbal work will poke through for its lead spot.
So, while it hasn't become an instant favourite, there is enough here that has kept me playing it over and over. And while I don't love it, I do like it. It still gets high marks because the band do what they do well, and I think will please most progressive thrash fans. The spat out lyrics are too vitriolic in style to be treacly or cloying in content.
Grace For Succession (4:12) / Paradigms (3:41) / Psychopath (3:48) / Blood Red Cover (3:38) / 26 Miles From Marathon (4:13) / Confession Of Inadequacy (3:48) / Scrape The Surface (3:21) / Thrash Synergy (5:21) / Aperture (3:11) / Emancipation (3:20) / Nihilism 2002 (4:09)
Peter Espevoll - vocals, acoustic guitar
Christer Espevoll - guitars
David Husvik - drums, backing vocals
John Robert Mjåland - bass
Ole Børud - guitars, melodic vocals
Mesmerized (ep) (1999)
The Blueprint Dives (2005)